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University educators demand fairness for contract academic staff

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Image: tumblr/weteachlaurier

For more and more faculty and staff who work and teach in post-secondary institutions across Canada, employment is anything but fair. Non-regular or contingent faculty face major challenges because their employment status is temporary and their access to available work is limited. These positions are often poorly paid, have little or no benefits, no job security and no academic freedom. This has serious implications not only for contract academic staff, but for students, their regular academic staff colleagues, and universities and colleges as a whole.

Last week, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) and its member associations joined with a coalition of unions and activists across North America to organize a week-long series of events designed to raise awareness about the overuse and exploitation of contract academic staff.

Held October 21 - 25, Fair Employment Week (FEW) events ranged from "invisible academic" poster campaigns to campus informational sessions and socials. The Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association had previously launched a Tumblr site called "We Teach
 Laurier" to share the stories of Contract Academic Staff, whereas others signed and shared an open letter to college and university presidents.*

"We are putting pressure on governments and administrators to improve the conditions of non-regular or contingent faculty in our institutions," said Cindy Oliver, president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C. "We know that when we make their jobs more secure and strengthen their access to available work and regular benefits, we not only help them as educators, we also improve their workplace conditions in ways that improve the learning experience of their students."

You can sign the Fair Employment Week open letter to college and university presidents here.

Samantha Montgomery is working on the Fair Employment Week campaign. CAUT is the national voice of 68,000 academic and general staff at more than 120 universities and colleges across Canada.

Image: tumblr/weteachlaurier

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